Akhmatova Song Thomas Simaku

Akhmatova Song  cover
7 mins

Solos, Duos & Trios Duos

1 Soprano, 1 Violoncello

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Score ISMN 57036-323-0 £10.00 Buy now

soprano and cello

Programme note

Anna Akhmatova, Why did you poison the water (1935)

Why did you poison the water
And mix dirt with my bread?
Why did you turn the last freedom
Into a den of thieves?
Because I didn't jeer
At the bitter death of friends?
Because I remained true
To my sorrowing motherland?
So be it. Without hangman and scaffold
A poet cannot exist in the world
Our lot is to wear the hair shirt
To walk with a candle and to wail.

There are many ‘clues’ in this poem (the resonance with my own early life, for example, was too powerful to be ignored!) which caught my creative attention. My compositional intention here was to focus on the various levels of intensity - strikingly powerful in Akhmatova’s poem - but far from a ‘declamatory’ approach, the note of the ‘musical protest’ here is best described as being ‘inward’ and ‘reflective’ - a kind of ‘solitary confinement’, as it were. The delicate expression and the tenderness of the melodic vocabulary, as well as the overall spatial quality of the song contribute to its tenebrous and lugubrious atmosphere; but there are a number of sudden vocal and instrumental outbursts, which function like ‘warning signals’ in the overall formal design of the piece.

© Thomas Simaku

  • 8 Mar 2015 | 5:00pm | Les moulins de paillard, Centre d’art contemporain, Le Mans, France | Juliette de Massy (Soprano), Rohan de Saram (Cello)
  • 7 Mar 2015 | 8:00pm | Les moulins de paillard, Centre d'art contemporain, Le Mans, France | Juliette de Massy (Soprano), Rohan de Saram (Cello)